Old-growth logging in the Walbran continues

On January 4, logging company Teal Jones went to court and gained a new injunction to keep concerned citizens out of the Walbran Valley until March 31, 2016.

Protests for protection of the Walbran intensified in the fall of 2015 after the B.C. government awarded the first of eight logging permits for the most contentious unprotected area, the 485 hectare Castle Grove in the heart of the valley.

In an area of the Walbran Valley dubbed Black Diamond Grove, among monumental cedars, massive Sitka spruce, hemlock, amabalis fir and Douglas-fir trees, stands the Leaning Tower Cedar, a cedar approximately three metres wide at its base and probably as old as 1,000 years.  Photo credit: Torrance Coste

In an area of the Walbran Valley dubbed Black Diamond Grove, among monumental cedars, massive Sitka spruce, hemlock, amabalis fir and Douglas-fir trees, stands the Leaning Tower Cedar, a cedar approximately three metres wide at its base and probably as old as 1,000 years.  Photo credit: Torrance Coste

Activists, Sierra Club BC, other environmental groups, tourism operators, municipalities and thousands of citizens have since raised their voice calling on the provincial government to revoke permission to log in this area, add the Castle Grove Area to the protected area and phase out old-growth logging on Vancouver Island. Read our statement.

In December, Teal Jones announced that the company has “no immediate plans to harvest block 4424, nor are there immediate plans to proceed with other cut blocks within ‘the bite’” (the Castle Grove Area is often referred to as the ‘bite’). However, this didn’t stop the company from seeking an injunction until September 2016 to continue old-growth logging in the Walbran Valley while keeping concerned citizens out of the area.

Intact old-growth areas, like the Walbran, are significant because they remain covered by at least 70 per cent “big-tree” old-growth. Due to decades of logging, this is a rarity on Vancouver Island.

Once logged, old-growth is gone forever. These areas serve to defend species diversity, produce and protect clean air and water, and as an important outdoor destination.

Most importantly, old-growth rainforests like those found in the Walbran Valley, are the world’s most efficient carbon sink. These towering trees have the highest carbon storage per hectare on the planet, if they remain intact. Clearcutting them releases enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

A recent Sierra Club BC report revealed that, over the past two decades, B.C.’s forests as a whole have shifted to being net emitters of carbon. This contrasts starkly to their historic role capturing huge amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and is due, in large part, to irresponsible logging practices and poor forest management.

Sierra Club BC is calling for a provincial government action plan to protect and restore B.C.’s forests in light of climate change impacts. Focus should be placed on conservation and restoration of endangered rainforest ecosystems on Vancouver Island and the south coast, which have been found relatively resilient to climate impacts in their intact state. B.C.’s forest industry must shift to harvesting sustainable levels of second growth forest and value-added manufacturing.

A 2015 Sierra Club BC’s mapping analysis shows that only five of 155 landscape units on Vancouver Island and B.C.’s south coast are still covered primarily by “big-tree” old-growth. The Walbran, the most intact old-growth rainforest on Southern Vancouver Island, is the only one of these that remains largely unprotected.

A 2015 Sierra Club BC’s mapping analysis shows that only five of 155 landscape units on Vancouver Island and B.C.’s south coast are still covered primarily by “big-tree” old-growth. The Walbran, the most intact old-growth rainforest on Southern Vancouver Island, is the only one of these that remains largely unprotected.